Thursday, 21 July 2011

In which I solve the burgeoning diplomatic crisis

Seasons change, dogs moult, yet some spats are doomed to rumble until the end of time. Today, Jezebel is most put out by a recent survey of contemptuous British attitudes towards the inexorable march of Americanisms into the English language [Jezebel: Brits hate you for saying 'train station']. All the usual suspects are heres: apparently, we Brits loathe the words "gotten" and "normalcy", are full of hatred for the phrase "you do the math", and will just stab anyone who orders a "take-out". The US response is disgruntled, to say the least: "other horrid consequences of American influence include ladies wearing trousers, men being seen in public without their powdered wigs, and mass unemployment of footmen," snarketh back Jezebel.

So, before muskets start being fired, or I get placed in some sort of holding facility, I simply must set something straight. My 'fellow' Americans: this so-called canvassing of Brit opinion comes not from any rational source, but from the denizens of the 'Have Your Say' recesses of the BBC News site. For anyone unfamiliar with this shadowy netherworld, it's an arena so astonishingly intolerant that somebody has actually created a separate website just to catalogue the worst excesses of its "dribble-spattered lunacy". These are people who post things like "the whole idea of females working outside the typical occupations of teaching, nursing, agriculture and so on is wildly impractical". They think racial profiling doesn't go far enough, and that the re-implantation of chain gangs is the only way to tame Britain's youth. They're the ones that make the famously rabid Daily Mail commenters think "steady on, guys".

In short: if there's a group of people who are going to email the BBC in droves when invited to talk about something foreign they don't like, it's this lot. So, 'burglarize' aside (because that one really is mental): stand down, America! The British are not coming.

One more thing though. What is wrong with saying "train station"?


  1. I say 'Train Station'.

    I remember having my feathers particularly ruffled by a comment on that BBC website you mention: it was about the value of arts degrees.

    Some guy taking the position of an uber capitalist imperative wrote that all arts degrees should be banned because, unlike vocational/technical degrees, they have no obvious and direct financial yield. So clearly the only goal of all human endeavour should be a financial end-point or economic 'contribution', as he put it. You could almost hear him screaming "arts graduates don't buy things!!" You know, he was the kind of guy who's glad that NASA's shuttle program is over because, well, we didn't find any oil on the moon, so what's the point in space exploration, right? He was comically angry.


  2. Apparently their ire stems from the fact that the word 'train' is redundant, but what about the bus station? 'Railway station' just makes me feel like it's 1903 and I'm alighting in a spa town for three months 'rest' with my maiden aunt...

  3. As for No. 44, I like using Season to describe a unit of a Series. It makes it easier to tell a season/series finale apart and it actually makes a lot more sense to me.

    On a similar note, people pronouncing coup de grace as coup de graahh riles me to no end too...

  4. Me, I've always used 'series' to refer to a unit of a UK TV programme, and 'season' for an equivalent unit of US TV shows. That way, no-one gets hurt.

    People pronounce it 'coup de graaah'? This world is beyond repair.